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Owl post

Owl Post

Vernon Dursley: "What does she mean, 'the normal way'?""
Harry Potter: "Normal for us, you know, owl post. That's what's normal for wizards."
— Harry mentioning owl post[src]

Owl post is a wizarding system of sending messages or items using owls as the carriers. Besides the Owl Post Office, individuals and organisations with their own owls use them as their mail bearers — owls are employed by wizards in such numbers that is estimated that virtually all of them are either the property of the Postal Service or individual wizards.[1] Harry Potter's owl, Hedwig, was used as his primary means of communicating with his friends and his godfather, Sirius Black. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry had a number of owls that anyone at the school could use. They, along with students' personal owls, were kept in the Owlery.

History

Hogwarts use

At Hogwarts, owls live in the Owlery in the West Tower and deliver mail to students once a day, at breakfast – though more urgent messages are frequently delivered to Harry in his dormitory.

Hogwarts also has a number of school owls, which can be used by students who do not own an owl themselves. Harry used school owls on several occasions when he needed to contact Sirius without attracting attention. These owls seem to be used on occasion even to communicate across the school, such as when Hagrid sends a note to Harry at the end of his first week at Hogwarts, though this method seems to be given up by Harry’s sixth year, when notes are instead regularly delivered in the hands of students.

Beginning in Harry’s fifth year, all owl post into Hogwarts was searched and inspected as a security precaution. This was originally seen as an overbearing method of control by the Ministry of Magic and Dolores Umbridge, but once Voldemort’s return became public it was widely accepted. Intercepting owls can be done crudely or routinely. Hedwig was hurt when Umbridge intercepts her letter, but the Weasleys’ mail and Hogwarts mail is later searched as a matter of routine, with no harm coming to the animals.

Business use

Owls are also used for institutional deliveries, the first time we see an owl making a delivery is when one arrives with Hagrid’s Daily Prophet in the hut-on-the-rock. In this case, the owl has a pouch which it uses to collect Hagrid’s money.[2] Later, though, Hermione takes out a subscription to the Daily Prophet as well, and the owls that deliver it don’t seem to collect anything.

Owls are also used by some businesses for Owl Order Service, to deliver goods. This service comes into prominent use, when a Slug Club Christmas party is approaching his sixth year, and girls buy love potions from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes through Fred and George’s Owl Order Service. Fred Weasley and George Weasley conducted much of their business for Weasley's Wizard Wheezes via an owl order service.

In 1995, the British Ministry of Magic enacted several laws regarding censorship of owl post.

Use of owls

"All the kids want owls, they're dead useful, carry yer mail an' everythin'."
—Rubeus Hagrid[src]
Post owls are quite intelligent, and can usually find their mail's recipient with little to no direction.

Other birds can be used for delivering messages. Sirius Black, while in hiding, sent unspecified tropical birds as message carriers while communicating with Harry Potter. This lead Harry to speculate that Sirius was hiding in a warmer environment than England. However, the preponderant bird used for messaging was the owl. Muggles have their own form of post and therefore do not use owls, nor were they generally aware that owls or other birds could be used for correspondence.

Some magic is used by owls in finding their recipients; Hedwig, for example, is able to easily locate Sirius Black when he is on the run from the Ministry of Magic, even though Aurors are unable to do so.[3] Hedwig also routinely hunts Harry down in Hogwarts, in Gryffindor Tower or even his classes[4], and Pigwidgeon successfully delivers a letter to Harry while he is on the moving Hogwarts Express.[5] However, wizards cannot send an owl to someone they want to find and then “follow” the owl to discover the person’s whereabouts.

Owl deliveries

Letters

Year Sender Reciever Notes
1991-1992 Hagrid Dumbledore A note letting Dumbledore know he's successfully picked up Harry
Cornelius Fudge According to Hagrid, Cornelius Fudge peppers Dumbledore with owls asking for advice
Hagrid Harry Potter Invitation to visit and Harry replies "Yes, please, see you later" — his first owl post letter
Minerva McGonagall A note along with a new Nimbus 2000
Charlie Weasley Ron Weasley Agreement to take Norbert, after Ron presumably writes him to ask and Ron replies
Quirrell Dumbledore An urgent note, supposedly from the Ministry of Magic, to lure him away from Hogwarts
Hagrid Various Hagrid sends owls to James and Lily's old school friends to obtain photos of them for Harry (who are they, besides Lupin?)
1992-1993

Ron Weasley

Harry Potter A "thick wad of envelopes" were sent over the summer, but Dobby intercepts them
Hermione Granger
Hagrid
Mafalda Hopkirk A warning against doing underage magic, shortly after Dobby performs a Hover Charm
Hogwarts Second years Booklists arrive from Hogwarts, while Harry is at The Burrow
Ron Weasley Hermione Granger Ron uses Errol to write Hermione and she replies with plans to meet them at Diagon Alley
Dumbledore Weasleys A letter regarding Harry and Ron crashing a car into the Whomping Willow
Dursleys
Molly Weasley Ron Weasley A Howler when she finds out he took the car
Fans Gilderoy Lockhart Harry addresses envelopes while in detention
Sir Patrick Delaney-Podmore Nearly Headless Nick A letter rejecting his application to the Headless Hunt (how did he send that?)
Dumbledore Azkaban Letter to secure Hagrid's release
Governers of Hogwarts Dumbledore The eleven governers of Hogwarts, other than Lucius Malfoy, barrage Dumbledore with owls asking for his return to Hogwarts
1993-1994 Ron Weasley Harry Potter Letters to wish Harry a happy 13th birthday
Hermione Granger
Hagrid
Third year Hogwarts letter arrives with Hagrid's birthday gift
Hogwarts
Augusta Longbottom Neville Longbottom Hogsmeade letter directly to Professor McGonagall
A Howler after he loses the Gryffindor Tower passwords
Hagrid Harry Potter Ron Weasley An invitation to visit him and to discuss Hermione
Hermione Granger A letter to inform her that Buckbeak lost at his trial
Ron Weasley A letter to inform him that Buckbeak's lost his appeal as well
Sirius Black Harry Potter Receives a letter on the Hogwarts Express, explaining the Firebolt, giving him permission to go to Hogsmeade, and giving Pigwidgeon to Ron
Firebolt Company Sirius says that Crookshanks took his Firebolt order to the Owl Office, where presumably it was then sent in
1994-1995 Harry Potter Sirius writes to Harry twice from his hiding place; the letters are sent not with owls but tropical birds
Harry Potter Sirius Black Harry writes to Sirius for the first time to let him know that his scar twinged
Ron Weasley Harry Potter Ron sends his first letter with Pigwidgeon to invite Harry to the Quidditch World Cup
Various Ministry A large number of people send Howlers to the Ministry of Magic to complain about Quidditch World Cup security
Sirius Black Harry Potter Sirius writes Harry to let him know he's flying north, worried about Harry's safety
Harry Potter Sirius Black Harry responds to Sirius to ask him not to return to Britain, and sends the note with Hedwig
Sirius Black Harry Potter Sirius writes back to Harry with Hedwig to let him know he's hidden in Britain
Harry Potter Sirius Black Harry sends a school owl to inform him that Harry's name was picked for the Triwizard Tournament
Sirius Black Harry Potter Sirius replies and asks for a face to face meeting on November 22
Pigwidgeon delivers congratulations on Harry's getting past the Hungarian Horntail
Sirius sends a brown owl with a very short letter: "Send date of next Hogsmeade weekend by return owl."
Sirius asks Harry to bring him food and meet with him on the next Hogsmeade weekend
Trio Percy Weasley To ask whether he's seen Mr Crouch; he responds irritably
Various Hermione Granger After Rita Skeeter's article defaming Hermione, she gets hate mail; Hagrid says he'd received some too
Harry Potter Sirius Black Harry continues to regularly write Sirius in the cave near Hogsmeade
Fred Weasley Ludo Bagman They demand their money, though the trio doesn't figure it out until later
George Weasley
Harry Potter Sirius Black Sends an owl to tell Sirius about his excursion into Dumbledore's Pensieve
Sirius Black Harry Potter Sirius berates Harry for walking the grounds with Viktor Krum and starts sending daily owls
1995-1996 Various

Mafalda Hopkirk expells him from Hogwarts and informs him that his wand will be snapped

Arthur Weasley tells Harry not to leave his house or surrender his wand;
Mafalda Hopkirk again writes, rescinding Harry's expulsion and notifying him of a hearing
Sirius writes to tell Harry not to leave the house
Dumbledore Petunia Dursley Mysterious message, "Remember my last"
Hogwarts Various Hogwarts booklists —  and prefects' badges —  arrive at number twelve, Grimmauld Place
Harry Potter Sirius Black Sends a cryptic message to Sirius about Umbridge and Hagrid; Filch accuses him of placing dungbomb orders but Cho backs Harry up
Cho Chang Unknown Sends some message, as she meets Harry in the Owlery
Percy Weasley Ron Weasley Percy sends an unexpected letter, urging him to distance himself from Harry
Sirius Black Harry Potter A note —  "Today, same time, same place" —  but Hedwig is intercepted and injured en route to Harry
Hermione Granger Viktor Krum We see Hermione write a letter to Krum, but never get confirmation that it is sent
Molly Weasley Various A letter to Sirius, Harry, and her children that Arthur is alive after the snake attack, though it is sent with Fawkes rather than by owl post
Gilderoy Lockhart Gilderoy Lockhart announces that he still receives fan mail
Various Harry Potter When his Quibbler interview is released, Harry receives a number of letters from those agreeing and disagreeing with him
Percy Weasley Daily Prophet Sends an owl to the Daily Prophet when Dumbledore confesses to forming an army against Fudge
1996-1997 Dumbledore Harry Potter Sends Harry a note to let him know he'll be coming to pick him up at Privet Drive
Ministry Sixth years Owls deliver O.W.L. results to Harry, Ron, and Hermione at The Burrow
Hogwarts Trio Booklists arrive at the Burrow, with news that Harry is Quidditch captain
Ginny Weasley
Bob Ogden Gaunts Sends an owl to notify the Gaunts he will be coming, but they don't accept it
Parents Students

Parents send regular owls to their children at Hogwarts to make sure they're okay after Voldemort's return

Items

Year Sender Receiver Notes
1991-1997 Daily Prophet Various Daily Prophet for Hagrid[6], and delivered to Malfoy, Hermione, Harry, and others in many places
Malfoys Draco Malfoy Packages of sweets, routinely delivered from home via the Malfoys' eagle owl[7]
Augusta Longbottom Neville Longbottom A Remembrall[8]
McGonagall Harry Potter A Nimbus 2000 broomstick
Augusta Longbottom Neville Longbottom Forgotten items[9]
Kwikspell Company Argus Filch The Kwikspell course, though not explicitly stated, seems to have been sent via owl[10]
Ron Weasley Harry Potter A Pocket Sneakoscope, 13th birthday present sent with Errol and nearly killing him[11]
Hermione Granger A Broomstick Servicing Kit, 13th birthday, which Hedwig showed up to pick up[12]
Hagrid A copy of The Monster Book of Monsters, 13th birthday present, sent with a school tawny owl[13]
Fred Weasley Percy Weasley Dragon dung, which Fred and George have delivered to Percy's office[14]
George Weasley
Harry Potter Sirius Black A ham, a dozen cakes, and some fruit, that Harry sends to Sirius when he's hiding in Hogsmeade[15]
Various Hermione Granger Bubotuber pus, enclosed in hate mail[16]
Molly Weasley Trio Easter eggs, though Hermione's is very small[17]

Hogwarts

Ron Weasley

Prefects' badges[18]
Hermione Granger
Xenophilius Lovegood Harry Potter A copy of the Quibbler, received after he gives an interview[19]
Harry Potter Various Molly Weasley sends Easter eggs for her children and Harry[20]
Flourish and Blotts

Harry Potter

A copy of Advanced Potion-Making, which Hedwig brings Harry from Flourish and Blotts[21]
Ron Weasley
Fred Weasley Students Love potions, a part of the Owl Order Service[22]
George Weasley

Behind the scenes

See also

Appearances

Notes and references